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The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program is a federal program administered by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. The program intends to encourage lawyers to become and remain full-time public defenders and public criminal prosecutors. Selected recipients will receive educational loan repayments in exchange for agreeing to serve full-time as a public prosecutor or public defender in Minnesota for an initial three additional years. After completing an initial three year service commitment attorneys are eligible to reapply and may receive additional educational loan repayments in exchange for continuing to serve.
Currently the program provides funding for educational loan repayment to approximately 20 public prosecutors and public defenders in Minnesota each year. To the extent possible, awards are distributed to applicants with the least ability to repay their student loans within each of the ten judicial districts statewide and the appellate office for public defenders and within each of the ten judicial districts statewide for public criminal prosecutors.
The program accepts new applications every three years. Applicants must have already worked as a public prosecutor or public defender for at least three years at the time of application. Retroactive work does not count toward the three year service commitment.
Applicants must have worked full-time (Full-time is defined as at least 30 hours a week for a year or 1560 hours for the entire year) as one of the following for at least three years and will be working full time as one of the following for the duration of the initial three year service commitment:
In addition, applicants must:
Applicants submit an application to the Office of Higher Education. The application is available every three years. The 2019 application closed on January 15, 2020. If federal funds remain available for this program, the next application will be available in fall 2022.
Currently, the program selects approximately 16 public prosecutors and 16 public defenders in Minnesota each year for awards. To the extent possible, awards are distributed to applicants with the least ability to repay their student loans within each of the ten judicial districts statewide and the appellate office for public defenders and within each of the ten judicial districts statewide for public criminal prosecutors. Priority consideration is given to previous recipients as well as applicants who are fluent in Spanish, Somali, Hmong or American Sign Language.
Provided federal funds continue to be available, selected recipients are eligible for renewal awards for up to two additional years while completing the required service. Previous recipients may also be eligible for additional awards provided they are willing to commit to additional service. To be eligible for renewal awards, selected recipients must complete a renewal application by the stated deadline and continue to meet the obligations of a signed service agreement.
The annual loan repayment award varies each year based on the amount of federal funds awarded to the State of Minnesota by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Based on the federal funds available for Federal Fiscal Year 2019, selected recipients are expected to receive an annual loan repayment award of approximately $1,900. Provided federal funding remains available, selected recipients who continue to meet the obligations of the three-year service commitment are eligible to renew their award for up to two additional years. Selected recipients who fail to meet the obligations of the three year service agreement will be required to repay to the Department of Justice the total amount of the repayments received.
This project is supported by a grant awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the SMART Office, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official position or policies of the United States Department of Justice.
Frequently Asked Questions Last update: 12/8/2019
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